Terra Motors & Zero Motorcycles – A Cautionary Tale

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It must be hard to be a legitimate motorcycle manufacturer, because the market seems to be flooded with ripoff artists in every corner. Every year at the EICMA show, we see the Italy’s Guardia di Finanza haul out scooters and motorcycles that the trade regulator deems are too close to those of Italian brands.

Now granted, we suspect there is more to that story than meets the eye (if you were an Italian OEM, wouldn’t you want to keep out the budget-priced scooters from your market?), and some of these confiscated designs truly don’t seem infringing to my eye, but I digress.

With the case of the Terra Motors Kiwami though, what it seems we have here is that the Japanese brand has repurposed a Zero S electric street bike from California’s Zero Motorcycles for its own purposes.

We had a couple people in the industry email us about this gem of a story, wondering if Zero had licensed its design, or even sold an excess of inventory. to the Japanese company,  which plans on selling the Kiwami in the Indian market. However, before we could do some digging though, our good colleague Domenick Yoney at AutoBlog Green got the scoop on what is up.

AutoBlog Green says the story is a simple one: Zero’s Vice President of Global Marketing Scot Harden confirmed that the electric motorcycle OEM has no licensing or supply agreements whatsoever with Terra Motors, save for the fact that Zero sent the Japanese company a few drivetrains and a complete Zero S to test the waters with for prototype development.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, as the saying goes, and now we see that the Terra Motors Kiwami has the same frame, swingarm, motor, and presumably other bits as the Zero S — kinda makes you go “hmmm” huh? Check out AutoBlog Green’s gallery for the full extent of what we are talking about.

Debuting the Kiwami at Rs 18 lakh (over $28,000 USD), Terra Motors is charging quite the premium for “its” electric motorcycle, which comes complete with ‘1,000cc superbike-level acceleration.’ With only 10 kW quoted for the motor power, we are a bit dubious about that claim (not matter what gearing is involved), as we are with the entire project.

According to AutoBlog Green, Zero Motorcycles is sending the Terra Motors a cease-and-desist letter, and exploring its other legal options — as it should.

The lesson here for Terra Motors is quite obvious, but there is one here for companies like Zero as well: be wary with who you get into business with — Zero isn’t the first electric motorcycle maker to find their IP sampled by a Asian manufacturer, and likely won’t be the last.

Source: AutoBlog Green